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Dan Li

Alexandria, VA

Thomas Jefferson HS for Sci-Tech

Grade: Junior


Math, Video Games, Reading


Math Team, Computer Team, Science Bowl Team


U.S. Math Olympiad (2006-09), U.S. Computing Olympiad (2007-09)


In elementary school, my parents and teachers discovered that I possessed exceptional mathematical aptitude. This was particularly seen when I got a perfect on the Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle Schools (MOEMS) contest in 6th grade, which was a rare occurrence at my school. In middle school I participated in the American Math Competitions, making it to the USA Math Olympiad in 8th grade, and in MathCounts, where I captained the Virginia Team at MathCounts Nationals 2006, where we won first place. In high school, I, like many other freshman math team members, became part of our school's physics and computer teams, in addition to the math team. So, in 9th grade, I took the USAPhO preliminary round, and utterly failed, barely managing to answer a few questions.

However, my inability to do physics simply stemmed from a lack of knowledge. Once I had grasped a physics concept, it was not hard for me to do the math. Last year, I took a physics class taught by Dr. Dell, our coach, who quickly remedied my lack of physics knowledge. In addition to this, my learning is supplemented by the teachings of my fellow students. To me, physics is much more straightforward than math, but it contains a few tricks that make it fun. Simply applying formulas isn't entertaining, but finding new ways to use them is.

As mentioned above, I find physics fun. I also participate in my school's physics team for the company of people with similar interests. We meet afterschool, and while physics learning is the main focus, we also find time to do fun things like play bridge.

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